Toby Keith

That Don't Make Me a Bad Guy

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If 2007's Big Dog Daddy seemed like a back-to-basics move after a few years of wandering, its 2008 successor, That Don't Make Me a Bad Guy, seems downright primitive in comparison. Hard and heavy with guitars, That Don't Make Me a Bad Guy is a roadhouse album at its core with blues playing a larger role than honky tonk here. Keith cranks those three chords hard on the tough "Creole Woman," runs through a talking blues on the slyly funny "Time That It Would Take," and lets it smolder on his lonesome soldier anthem "Missing Me Some You," subtly weaving some deep Southern soul horns into the chorus. Those horns are about the only subtle thing here, as "Cabo San Lucas" hits its south-of-the-border accent shamelessly hard, while the rolling acoustic "You Already Love Me" piles guitars upon guitars and the ballad "She Never Cried in Front of Me" escalates in a crescendo suited for arenas. This pumped-up swagger comes close to exaggeration, but as a producer Keith favors well-defined muscle to steroid-fueled bluster and his writing is similarly lean and natural, turning That Don't Make Me a Bad Guy into a record that's at once brawny and humble.

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